Eipides gets approval for new later dates, December 3-11, 2010.

Greek minister of culture Pavlos Geroulanos has appointed Dimitri Eipides as the new head of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF).

The move was prompted by the resignation of former artistic director Despina Mouzaki.

Mouzaki’s decision to quit was the result of  the minister’s  failure, since the new socialist government came to power six months ago, to renew her term or replace her at the helm of TIFF. That  was resulting into TIFF getting gradually paralyzed  both financially and administratively.

Eipides arrives at the post within a critical overall financial situation of the country which is certain to affect the festival year-round budget, running at about Euros 7 million.

In his favour is Eipides’ long-time acquaintance with the festival where he has served in various key positions since 1993 when he first introduced the New Horizons international non competitive section, a key element to the prestige and the internationalization of the event undertaken at that moment by TIFF’s general director Michel Demopoulos.

Eipides stepped down from New Horizons in 2004 following the sacking of Demopoulos and TIFF president  Theo Angelopoulos the same year by the conservative culture minister at that time.

He remained associated toTIFF, as head of the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival-Image of the 21st Century, which he created in 1999. Operating under the TIFF umbrella, the event rapidly grew in size and importance to become one of the top three European documentary festivals.

Another plus in Eipides’ assets is his international stature as he commands a wide respect from his colleagues around the world. He is, since the time he was living in Canada during the seventies and the eighties, a senior international programmer of such respected festivals as Toronto and  Montreal (Festival de Nouveau Cinema that he created together with Claude Chamberlain) as well as programme director of the much newer Reykjavic International Film festival.

He is set to need all such contacts as he will have limited time to prepare next November TIFF as well as to cater for the March 2011 documentary event. Citing  the need of extra time to properly prepare the festival at least for this year, Eipides has seeked and obtained approval from FIAPF to have later dates for the festival. The new dates for 2010 are now December 3-11.

He is expected to be at the helm of both events though it is less clear whether he will keep intact the programme structure he has inherited from Despina Mouzaki.

Certain to remain at least for this year are such core sections of the event as the international competition, the Balkan Fund and Crossroads.

The competion is reserved to first and second films boasting the Golden and Silver Alexander awards accompanied by Euros 40,000 and 25,000 respectively.

The Balkan Fund and Crossroads development strands, intensively boosted by Mouzaki during her five-year-tenure at TIFF, offer seed money for projects coming from the Balkans and the Mediterranean region.

It is characteristic that Mouzaki, speaking exclusively to Screen after she handed over to Eipides, termed those strands as her “legacy” to the event. Said Mouzaki: “the nurturing and strengthening of the development strands Balkan Fund, Crossroads as well as the Agora-Film Market  during my tenure at the festival is what I am most proud of alongside my efforts to open the festival  to new and upcoming talents of the world cinema”. 

From his side, Eipides speaking to Screen said, “Steering Greece’s flagship cultural event into a reef-free future is no easy feat at a time of financial turbulence. Thessaloniki’s solid 50-year-old tradition will however undoubtedly help us stay on course while we break new ground. My mission will be to expand the festival’s artistic horizons, to encourage creativity and showcase the works of promising young directors while holding an open window towards the latest in global cinema.”